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Monday, June 7, 2010 10:47 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 5/12. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1
Warren Ellis returns to play in X country again for a new five-issue miniseries. This time he sends the team to Africa to investigate a mysterious rash of mutant births. Along the way, he highlights some of the more awful and violent parts of the socio-political history of Africa, and has the characters banter with each other in highly amusing ways. ("There's beer on the plane, Logan.") I thought from the sample of his art on the cover that I would dislike Kaare Andrews' work, but I actually enjoy it quite a bit. It's exaggerated in a funny, clever way that fits Ellis' writing well. I particularly like how he's highlighted the ridiculousness of Emma Frost's figure and costume. A good start to the series!
Thumbs Up

B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #5
This issue reveals the horrific consequences of the events of the previous issue, and they are pretty shocking. Apparently Liz's most recent use of her powers really was nearly apocalyptic in its strength, and incredibly draining for her. Our heroes were teleported out of harm's way, but many thousands of people were not. Zinco is back and making some seemingly humanitarian gestures which no doubt have evil motives behind them, and one of Abe's old "friends" is still puttering around underwater in his big metal diving suit. Speaking of Abe, it makes me sad that Devon doesn't even want to be near him anymore, but considering what the Black Flame said about the guy, it's hard to blame him. In one of the more interesting subplots, it looks like reality is about to come crashing down on B.P.R.D.'s head. When you read these stories, you don't think much about the political consequences of the epic events that take place, but obviously the huge, world-altering supernatural things that have been going down would put B.P.R.D. on the spot, and they'd have to answer to somebody. But what starts as a dressing down turns into a sort of promotion. This should make the future of B.P.R.D. pretty interesting.

I like that they don't spell everything out for you in the Hellboyverse, but at the same time, I felt a bit lost after reading this issue. What exactly happened, and why? And who was the dude with the red hand on his face again? And what's going to happen to Liz now?? But maybe all that will be answered in future issues. Or maybe I should go back and read the old issues a bit more closely.
Thumbs Up

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1
Bruce is back!! This first issue of Grant Morrison's six-issue miniseries picks up right where Final Crisis left off, with Bruce hanging out with a dying old man in a cave and drawing some familiar-looking graffiti on the wall. It looks like when Bruce's corpse was shot off into space along with other artifacts of the dying Earth, he was somehow resurrected? And sent back in time? I assume they'll explain that in more detail later. Anyway, by the end of this issue, it becomes clear that he's going to be leapfrogging forward in time at random moments, sort of Quantum Leap-like, and the Justice League is going to be following him. Superman says if he makes it to the present he could destroy the universe! Another thing I assume they'll explain later. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the fun of Batman-through-time! In this issue, he fights cavemen, gets himself a caveman Robin, and experiences a weird summarized, nightmare version of his superhero origin story. Then it's forward to Puritan times where he'll fight extra-dimensional monsters with a sword! Excellent.
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #8
The final issue of this miniseries gives us an interesting look at the Marvel Universe version of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the very end brings us full circle in a satisfying way. But I have to repeat the same complaint I've been making about this series for the past couple of issues: there's far too much summarizing via narration and far too little actual comic book story-telling. They either needed to take more time and more issues to tell this story the right way, without clumsy, expository summarizing, or they needed to tell a smaller, shorter story in a tighter, more economic fashion. I like the concept of this series, and the art, but overall it's a disappointment, and doesn't live up to its potential.
Thumbs Sideways

The Sentry: Fallen Sun #1
Oh sweet lord, what an awful, awful comic this is. I had to force myself to even skim it. It's another of these one-shots, which are becoming woefully popular lately, where we spend an entire comic at the funeral of the latest dead superhero (whom we all know will be brought back to life in a year at the most anyway), and get to wallow in grief for over twenty pages. It's a really cheap way to elicit emotion from the audience. I'm not saying it can't be done well, but it certainly is not done well here. There is zero subtlety in Paul Jenkins' overwrought, ridiculously melodramatic writing. Tony's agonizingly long and awful speech about alcoholism and addiction and friendship is practically unreadable. And there are plenty more speeches of similar quality. What makes the book particularly odd and ineffective is that these characters are all speaking lovingly of events that I've never heard of before and that I'm pretty sure were never even dramatized in a comic before, because they were all retconned into this universe via the Sentry's origin story. Regardless, this comic is so full of corny, overly earnest, cliched dialog that it's totally unbearable. It's an embarrassment.
Thumbs Down

Siege #4
I expressed surprise in my review of New Avengers #64 that I learned about Loki's final double-cross in the pages of that book instead of in the pages of the main Siege miniseries. Well, this last entry in said miniseries finally explains Loki's actions. It's pretty much another version of the end of Secret Invasion, with one of the traditional Marvel villains stepping up to help the heroes defeat an even more dangerous villain. It's also, as I guessed from New Avengers, pretty much a literal deus ex machina. It's really quite lame. Basically this comic involves the heroes hitting a guy until they've finally hit him enough that he stops moving. Then Cap gets Norman Osborn's job. Yawn. Olivier Coipel's art is excellent, but I'm really tired of Brian Michael Bendis. His writing is just not very good, and the whole Siege story is tired and cliche. The Sentry character arc, for instance, is just a repeat, not only of many other, better stories about many other, better characters, but of stories that have already been told about this very same character. The same could be said for the Siege story as a whole. It feels like Bendis is just recycling the plots from Civil War and Secret Invasion because people seemed to like those. How about we try something new, huh?
Thumbs Sideways

Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #2
Another intriguing medical puzzle for everybody's favorite grumpy frontier doctor, this time with a cameo from Scotty. The solution to the puzzle involves the behavior of an ancient transporter system, and is pretty standard Trek stuff, but like I said about the first issue, it's really just fun seeing these beloved characters in action again.
Thumbs Up

The Unwritten #13
This issue opens with an intriguing look into the traditions and secrets of "The Order," and gives us a better idea of what's really going on. The two-page spread in which Tom sees a crowd of people rear up like a giant monster is very cool. We figure out who Richie is really working for just before he gets taken out of the picture for good in a really horrific manner. Damn! I was just starting to like that guy. But hey, it's fun meeting Frankenstein's monster again. All-in-all, another enjoyable issue.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), John Arcudi (Not), John Byrne (Not), Mike Carey (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), The Sentry (Not), The Take (Not), Warren Ellis (Not), X-Men (Not)
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Monday, May 31, 2010 08:13 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 4/28, new releases from Free Comic Book Day, and also a bunch of old stuff the comic shop wanted to get rid of and therefore put up for grabs on Free Comic Book Day. It was quite a pile of books, and I've been a bit busy lately, so I'm afraid it took me longer to get through them and write them up than usual. I can't say when or if I'll be able to catch up on all the other books that came after these, either. But I'll do my best!

As usual, beware spoilers!

New releases
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #34
Wow. I was a little surprised at first when I started reading this Buffy arc by Brad Meltzer and it wasn't terrible, given how much I've disliked Meltzer's work in the past, but now his awfulness has finally reared its ugly head, and in spectacular fashion. Then again, I'm not sure how much of this I can really blame on him, as I assume the general shape of the story was already laid out for him by Joss and company, and it's mostly the story itself that's bad. I mean, Angel and Buffy having graphic sex for an entire comic? It's kind of gross. And what the hell are they doing having sex in the middle of everything anyway, when Buffy should by all rights be kicking Angel's ass, seeing as how he's been a villain committing MASS MURDER for the entire Season? And why the hell was Angel committing doing that anyway? I still need answers to these questions!! But instead they just throw a lot of really lame bullcrap at us about "the Universe" and how it has manipulated everyone and everything in some really hand-wavy fashion, and manufactured this entire plot line (in fact, very possibly the entire history of reality so far) just so that Buffy and Angel will have sex and thus elevate themselves to some new level of existence, destroying the old one in the process. That's lame. Seriously, seriously lame. It sounds like Angel actually had some inkling this is what was going to happen. But why would Angel ever be so selfish as to deliberately kill thousands of people and possibly destroy an entire universe just so he can get lucky with his ex and have some peace and quiet for a change? I just don't buy it.
Thumbs Down

Captain America #605
A fun and slightly sad conclusion to the Captain America vs. the Tea Party storyline, ending with a classic comic book fight on top of the Hoover Dam. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of crazy '50s Cap. (I didn't even bother reading the Nomad backup story; that shit is terrible.)
Thumbs Up

New Avengers #64
Now we get to see the events leading up to the Fall of Asgard from the perspective of The Hood. So I guess we're going to get to see the same events from the perspective of every single character in the Marvel Universe eventually. Sigh. Anyway, what we learn in this run-through is that Loki pulled a literal deus ex machina, took The Hood gang's power away from them, and gave it to the good guys. I'm not sure why that happened, or why I haven't already read about it in some other, more important comic book (like Siege #3 or something). It's a confusing twist, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to feel when I look at the final panel of this comic, which is a picture of The Hood's girlfriend's gold mask with The Hood's face reflected in it. I can't say I find either of these characters all that interesting anymore. I mean, The Hood's story so far has been that he got magic power, and then he lost it, and then he got magic power again, and then he lost it again. Yawn.
Thumbs Sideways

Siege: Secret Warriors #1
This is a pretty cool one-shot revealing what Phobos, the God of Fear, did when he learned of the death of his father, Ares. Basically, he flips out, kills a lot of Secret Service agents, and then drops a really bitter, angry, well-written letter on the President's desk. In between, there is a truly hilarious and fantastic scene in which Nick Fury and Steve Rogers - the two bad-ass old campaigners - have a casual conversation about hanging out in the middle of the Siege of Asgard. I loved this scene so much I can't even tell you. It's ridiculous and warm and funny and hardcore all at once, and really wonderfully illuminates these two characters. Surprisingly good one-shot!
Thumbs Up

The Terminator: 2029 #2
We open with a gigantic firefight, and then we get to meet an interesting new faction of humanity: a lone wolf pack who don't follow John Connor, but just go roaming around the wilderness hunting machines. It's a different philosophy of the post-apocalypse than we've seen before, and brings up some interesting questions. Do you take the risk of settling down - building families and making connections - or do you go off on your own, avoid connections, and fend for yourself as best you can? The same conflict of philosophies is on display between Paige and Ben - Paige wants to shut herself off from everyone, because she's afraid to be hurt again and lose someone else who matters to her. But Ben is willing to take the risk. And finally Paige takes it with him. But then something unexpected interrupts them: the old man Reese saved from a machine outpost turns out to be a future version of himself, who asks for Ben by name! Woah. Clearly this Reese is from some other timeline than the one we know. Either that or he's just some crazy guy. Either way, I'm intrigued! This is good writing, and an exciting story.
Thumbs Up

Thor #609
Lots of exciting action and god-fighting in this one. Plus Loki gets some good lines: "I am Loki, the fire that burns. And why does the fire burn? I know not. But I am he." He admits to having fashioned the plot that led to the Fall of Asgard, but claims he didn't think it would go this far. Balder gets all bad-ass, and exiles Loki, but in fact it looks like that may have been part of Loki's plan all along. That tricky guy. There are some corny moments in this issue, but all-in-all it's pretty entertaining.
Thumbs Sideways

FCBD new releases
Bongo Comics Free-For-All!
Despite the title, which would seem to suggest that this is a sampler of various comic titles put out by Bongo, it's actually just a handful of Simpsons stories. They're all mildly amusing, with one or two decent gags, but there's none of the true comic brilliance from the show's heyday.
Thumbs Sideways

DC Kids Mega Sampler 2010
Yep, these are some DC kids comics. Nothing very exciting. I like Art Baltazar's exaggerated art style, and Batman has some fun lines about his desire to punch things in the final story, but that's about it.
Thumbs Sideways

Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom/Magnus: Robot Fighter
These are previews of two new titles from Dark Horse Comics, both written by Jim Shooter. The first is simply awful. Incredibly cheesy writing, totally lacking in subtlety, and a story that's entirely unimaginative. It's reminiscent of every superhero origin story ever, but the character is probably most similar to a really boring version of Doctor Manhattan. Robot Fighter is slightly more interesting, as it has a quirky sense of humor instead of just being painfully earnest. Plus, the story's not as dull and lacking in creativity as Doctor Solar; here we've got a human being who's somehow strong enough to fight rogue robots, but he also has a robot friend, and can interface with the robots in a limited way. That's not to say this is a really good comic; the relationship between the main character and the story's only woman is the classic contentious, they-hate-each-other, they-love-each-other dynamic. And the plot ends up being pretty dull. You can bet I won't be collecting these comics when they start asking you to pay for them.
Thumbs Down

Green Hornet
This book contains previews of most, if not all, of Dynamite's many Green Hornet-related titles. First up is part of Kevin Smith's awful Green Hornet book, which I already read and hated, so I skipped over that. Next up is Green Hornet: Year One, which has some nice art by Aaron Campbell, but pretty ho-hum dialog and story from Matt Wagner. Then there's The Green Hornet Strikes! There's not really enough of this one to get a good feel for it, and there's even less of Kato Origins and Kato (the former has color but no dialog; the latter is black and white and doesn't even have ink, let alone dialog). I doubt there's any reason to buy any of these. The last one, after all, is just a spin-off of Kevin Smith's story, focusing on the hot Kato with large boobs, so it's almost certainly awful.
Thumbs Down

Incorruptible/Irredeemable
This is just a book containing reprints of the first issue of each of Mark Waid's great new series. A good way to get into them for anybody who hasn't yet. Anybody want my copy?
Thumbs Up

Iron Man/Nova
It's Iron Man and Nova versus a team of super apes! Except one of the apes defects and helps them, in return for candy. Pretty cute and fun. In the back is a goofy Superhero Squad short about Iron Man trying to find a way to repair all the damage from Hulk's constant smashing, but Hulk points out that prevention would be the better course. Also kind of cute.
Thumbs Sideways

Iron Man/Thor
The opening image of this one - Thor standing with his hammer in front of a giant oncoming wave and ordering it to yield - is a really powerful one. But it's not the prelude to a surreal, philosophical comic. In fact the story is about some folks who have stolen one of Tony Stark's inventions and are using it to make the moon habitable and the Earth inhabitable. Iron Man and Thor team up to stop them. I'm kind of surprised these two are willing to work together, after the bad blood that's passed between them lately, but whatever. There's some fun banter, Romita provides his usual excellent artwork, and the story is reasonably exciting.
Thumbs Sideways

Kizoic Presents
This book has two Penguins of Madagascar stories on one side and two Shrek stories on the other. The one Shrek story about Donkey and Shrek getting sick and being quarantined together is oddly pointless and never goes anywhere, but the rest are all pretty standard kids' comic stories - mildly entertaining, but not very exciting, and not terribly imaginative either. I wanted to like the Penguins stories more than I did, since I enjoy the cartoon, but they're just okay.
Thumbs Sideways

The Library of American Comics
This is little more than a long ad for collections of old newspaper strips. It includes a bunch of samples of what the company has to offer, including really early Archie, Blondie, and Li'l Abner. Mostly it just convinced me that, yes, some comics do eventually become hopelessly dated.
Thumbs Sideways

Toy Story
It's disappointing to me that nearly every Toy Story story has the same format: a new toy arrives, and the other toys react to it with fear and suspicion, but usually end up embracing it in the end. This story is no exception. The only wrinkle is that this time the new toy is another Buzz Lightyear, which Andy receives by mistake, and which his Mom promises to exchange for a new, better toy. But the new Buzz gets switched with the old Buzz, and is about to be taken back to the store when the comic ends. The book has its moments, but there's nothing so exciting here that it makes me want to start collecting this series again.
Thumbs Sideways

War of the Supermen #0
I've been avoiding all the Superman titles lately because they're all being written by authors whose work I've disliked in the past. This free zero issue convinced me I've been making the right decision. It's just lots of cheesy, overwrought, melodramatic dialog and narration. Plus, Superman comes off as self-righteous and preachy. There's nobody in the book you can like or identify with. Even the villains just stand around and spout the standard villain cliches.
Thumbs Down

Worlds of Aspen 2010
I was not familiar with any Aspen comics before I looked at this sampler, but it seems clear now that all of their books are about boobs. There's some sad attempts at dialog and story attached to the boobs, but they're clearly an afterthought. The only exception is Dellec. The sadly extremely short preview for this book is actually pretty funny, as it involves a gang of big guys dressed as apes who call themselves The Kongs.
Thumbs Down

FCBD back issues and old data
Charlemagne #1
This is a book put out by a publishing company called Defiant in the early '90s. It's an absolutely awful story which opens up in the '70s with a young boy worrying about his soldier brother, who's overseas in Vietnam. He ends up getting over there somehow and trying to save his brother, only to fail at the last moment. Then he goes into a coma for many years and somehow develops super strength. I couldn't even read the entire thing, the dialog and narration were so poorly written; I just skimmed the last three quarters or so. It's melodramatic and overwrought and cheesy and just bad in every way that writing can be bad. The credits reveal that it was plotted by five different people working together, which is not a good sign; too many cooks in the kitchen, clearly. Apparently the actual writing was done by only one guy, though: D.G. Chichester. I'll have to make sure to avoid his work in the future - assuming it even comes up.
Thumbs Down

Fantastic Four Versus the X-Men #2
Fantastic Four Versus the X-Men #3

These are two issues from the middle of a four-issue miniseries published in the mid-'80s. They're written by Chris Claremont, so they're exceedingly over-narrated and seriously lacking in subtlety. Plus, Franklin Richards baby-speak dialog makes me want to punch somebody. That being said, it's a surprisingly effective story, which finds the X-Men so desperate to save Shadowcat from an odd medical condition that they are even willing to fight the Fantastic Four when Reed refuses to help them, and accept the assistance of Doctor Doom when he offers it. But the FF is going through its own issues, as it turns out Sue has recently discovered a book that appears to be Reed's diary, and which states plainly that he knew what would happen on the fateful flight that turned them all into superheroes (and Ben into a freakish monster), and that he planned it deliberately. The book is a lie, but that doesn't stop it from briefly tearing the FF apart. Despite how melodramatic the story gets, it never feels unbelievable, and Claremont treats the characters well. Maybe it's because I'm a new father and therefore vulnerable to this sort of thing, but the tender moment between Reed and Franklin put a lump in my throat. As a final note, it's hilarious how incredibly inaccurate and sensationalized the covers of each of these comics are. The scenes they depict have absolutely nothing to do with what actually happens inside the books.
Thumbs Up

Fantasy Masterpieces #2
This book, from January of 1980, finds an extremely emo Silver Surfer (the opening panel features him lying stretched out on his board with one arm flung over his eyes in classic Victorian-lady-with-the-vapors style) protecting the Earth from invisible alien invaders, despite the fact that the humans constantly misinterpret his actions and repay his selfless acts of kindness with only hatred and violence. The writing, because it's by Stan "The Man" Lee, is really rather ridiculous. But, because it's by Stan "The Man" Lee, it's also reasonably fun and entertaining.
Thumbs Sideways

The Incredible Hulk #315
This book, from January 1986, actually documents a pretty important moment in the history of the Hulk, wherein Doc Samson manages to split the Hulk and Bruce Banner into two physically and mentally separate beings, only discovering after he's succeeded what a terrible and dangerous thing he's done. The writing and art are both by John Byrne, whose work I've enjoyed in the past, and he delivers a pretty entertaining comic here, although the opening metaphorical chase between Bruce and the Hulk is a bit overdone, and there's maybe a bit more exposition - and talking in general - than there really needs to be.
Thumbs Sideways

JLA: Paradise Lost #2
The middle issue of a three-part miniseries by Mark Millar, with art by Ariel Olivetti. I hardly need the first and third issues to understand the story, however, as it's a really old one about guardian angels who forsook their places in heaven for the love of mortal women, and another angel who's rebelling and plans to overthrow God. The fact that the Archangel Michael turns out to be a tattooed smoker is kind of amusing, and it's both entertaining and embarrassing to note that this was during the period where Superman didn't have the cape, and instead wore a ridiculous blue and white jumpsuit, and even had purple skin for some reason. This book also features one of the (apparently many) times that the Martian Manhunter died. It doesn't have a lot of that over-the-top, Millar charm, but he does get to show the evil angel burning some people alive and throwing a boat around, so there's that.
Thumbs Sideways

Will to Power #8
This is a short, 16-page book from the mid-'90s about a young, snot-nosed super team and their far more experienced boss facing off against a guy who appears to be a sort of Superman-gone-wild. We're clearly coming in at the middle of the story here, and what with that and the fact that there are so few pages, it's hard to get a feel even for who's meant to be the heroes and who's meant to be the villains. Luckily none of the characters are particularly interesting or fresh, so it doesn't really matter.
Thumbs Sideways
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Buffy (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Fantastic Four (Not), Free Comic Book Day (Not), Green Hornet (Not), Hulk (Not), Iron Man (Not), Kieron Gillen (Not), Mark Millar (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Nova (Not), Pixar (Not), Siege (Not), Simpsons (Not), Superman (Not), Terminator (Not), The Take (Not), Thor (Not), X-Men (Not), Zack Whedon (Not)
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Monday, April 26, 2010 01:14 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the weeks of 4/7 and 4/14. Beware spoilers!

New releases
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #4
Liz goes hunting in the ruins of a future apocalypse that she supposedly helped create and finds evidence that seems to support the Black Flame's disturbing claim that Abe is just a slightly more evolved frog creature. The whole second half of the book is incredibly thrilling, as Hellboy makes a cameo and it is strongly suggested that since he was/will be unable or unwilling to end the world, Liz took/will take over for him. Luckily, in a truly ass-kicking climactic conflagration, a mysterious man with a red hand on his forehead shows up and helps direct Liz's power at the right people. It's nice when a super-powerful magician shows up to fight on the side of good for a change! Excellent, excellent stuff.
Thumbs Up

Batman and Robin #11
I'll admit it, I had to do some googling to figure out just who everybody was supposed to be in this comic (I finally found my answers here, if you're interested). I guess I'm just not that good at holding all these story threads in my head at once, and I don't know as much about the history of the DCU as I'd like. I didn't know that Dr. Hurt and El Penitente were the same guy (or if I did know, I forgot), or that that's who that guy was in the opening scene. And I definitely didn't recognize the villain who showed up in the final panel (which is too bad, as I'm sure that was meant to be a shocking reveal). Ah, well. I still really enjoyed the comic. Morrison's kooky dialog and wild story ideas are just fantastic. I love the 99 Fiends, and Batman's Indiana Jones-like investigation under Wayne Manor. I'm glad Robin is thinking the same thing about Sexton I was thinking, but I'd sure like to know if we're right. And the thrilling, cliffhanger ending is very exciting.
Thumbs Up

Irredeemable: Special #1
This is the kind of book that, if Marvel or DC were putting it out, would probably be called an "Annual." It's bigger than your average issue and has three separate stories done by three separate creative teams (although they were all written by Mark Waid). It opens with a short sum-up of the story so far, and some intriguing hints as to where the story will go next, revealing that the three characters who are at the center of each of these three stories will take a critical role in the events to come. The first tale tells the story of one of the Plutonian's former teammates, a guy called the Hornet, who would have been the first superhero (albeit without any powers) if the Plutonian hadn't showed up first. His story is pretty similar to that of Plutonian's other former teammates, except for one difference: the Hornet had a contingency plan in case the Plutonian ever went bad, and he was able to activate it before he was killed. But what is it, and what does it do? I guess we'll see...

Next up is the origin story of Kaidan, done in an appropriately manga-type style. It's a little melodramatic, but does give us a bit more of an insight into her powers and her past. Last is the story of how Max Damage met Jailbait. This one's possibly the weakest and least interesting of the three; it just feels perfunctory and doesn't really add anything to what we know about the characters.

Still, overall this is a pretty fun book. Really, I'm just excited about the fact that it exists. If Irredeemable is putting out "special" issues, that must mean the series is doing well!
Thumbs Up

Siege: Loki #1
This is a one-shot revealing more of Loki's motives and machinations as far as the events of Siege are concerned. I picked it up because it was written by Kieron Gillen, whose work I've enjoyed in the past, and because I have a bit of a soft spot for Loki. The setup is interesting: Loki realizes that despite all his meddling, Asgard and its citizens - including Thor and himself - remain essentially the same. This frustrates and angers him, and he decides he's going to have to work some real chaos if he's to see any kind of true change in the nature of things. So he puts a bug in Osborn's ear about Asgard, then seeks out the terrible Disir and makes himself their master, so that he can make a deal with Hela and Mephisto which will not only cause some serious strife, but also leave him truly immortal and fateless. It's an entertaining and clever series of machinations, and gives us an interesting look into Loki as a character. In the back of the book, we're told Loki's endgame will play out in Thor #609 and Siege #4. I was probably going to buy those anyway, so that's cool.
Thumbs Up

Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #1
John Byrne returns to the Star Trek universe for a new miniseries focusing on what Dr. McCoy was up to in between the original Enterprise's final mission and the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I always like these kinds of stories that fill in gaps in the overall plotline of a larger saga, and Byrne is particularly good at writing them. His prose is smart and he treats the characters with respect. We learn in this issue that McCoy, after sitting around being retired for a while, got restless and signed up to be a frontier doctor, meaning he's out cruising the spaceways with a fellow doctor, answering random medical emergency calls from various alien planets. He and his friend pick up a stowaway and then have to fight a mysterious and fast-moving disease. The stowaway character is basically a stereotype, and many of the other plot elements are pretty familiar, but it's still a reasonably entertaining story, and as I said, it's really just fun seeing these beloved characters moving around again, and learning more about their past.
Thumbs Up

Star Wars: Dark Times #16
The "Blue Harvest" storyline continues with Dass Jennir's Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars-style gambit playing out pretty much as planned (except maybe for that beating he takes). This continues to be an entertaining series with beautiful art.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): B.P.R.D. (Not), Batman (Not), Comic books (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), John Arcudi (Not), John Byrne (Not), Kieron Gillen (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), The Take (Not)
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010 04:49 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 3/24. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Captain America #604
The new Cap gets to suit up as Bucky again! It would be awesome and fun, if it weren't for the fact that he's doing it at the behest of the fake, wacko Cap. Meanwhile, Falcon kicks ass on a train. Fake Cap gets the final word, and it's a great supervillain line: "I'm going to blow up the Hoover Dam... and you're going to watch." It's not a fantastic issue, but it's pretty fun.
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #7
Speaking of Bucky suiting up, we get to see him do it for the first time in this issue. We also get a glimpse of Union Jack, and a look at the origin of Destroyer. Then Cap, Bucky, and Angel bust in on a Nazi meeting and kick butt with some serious style. I'm looking forward to the next and final issue, when I expect Namor will finally get educated, switch sides, and join the other Marvels to fight against the Nazis and their fellow villains. I'm still a little disappointed with the cursory way this series treats certain events (I would have liked more on Union Jack, Destroyer, and Bucky), but I suppose Brubaker only had so much space to work with, and the series is only meant to be a summary of a rather long and complex history. Still, I think I would've preferred a more focused series, covering a smaller number of events, to this summary that doesn't get a chance to treat hardly any of the events with any detail.
Thumbs Up

New Avengers #63
Yet another look at the giant fight in Asgard, this time interspersed with flashbacks from various heroes about their personal lives and relationships. Sadly, the dialog is not Bendis' best work. Overall a pretty dull and pointless issue. Sure, it ends with a hero apparently dead, but... what comic doesn't?
Thumbs Sideways

Supergod #3
Yep, this series is still amazing. We open with a brutal and depressing deconstruction of where religion comes from and what people really use it for. Then we meet another God, one of the most fascinating yet, who can see all possible futures, and is even able to see us, as readers, and speak directly to us. There's a disturbing moment when our narrator has a hard time remembering the next part of his story, and the whole reality and causality of it seem to be heading toward disintegration and fragmentation. Then our friend pulls things together and continues his tale, revealing that it was his idea to throw two of the Gods together in the hopes that they would negotiate a truce. I have a feeling it's not going to go well. But I'm looking forward to reading the details!
Thumbs Up

Thor #608
I like the archetypal nature of this story, with Tyr paralyzed with fear due to a prophecy about a God of war being doomed. When he realizes the prophecy referred to Ares, he feels free to act again. But the majority of the issue is a big fight between Volstagg and the evil Thor clone, which ends with Asgard falling on evil Thor's head. Which is nice! A reasonably fun issue, but it's lacking something. It could be... meatier.
Thumbs Sideways
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Kieron Gillen (Not), Siege (Not), The Take (Not), Thor (Not), Warren Ellis (Not)
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Thursday, March 25, 2010 09:40 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 3/17. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Dark Avengers #15
This issue jumps back in time a bit to retell some recent events from a slightly different perspective, adding in more details. It doesn't take long for the setup Bendis presented us with last issue to pay off - in fact, Bullseye acts on Osborn's secret assassination orders at his very first opportunity. Which is a bit of a disappointment, really. It seems like Bendis threw away the chance to build up a lot more tension and suspense there. But it's also kind of a relief because, jeez, Lindy is an annoying character. I mean, all she's ever been is a whiny victim. Plus I still don't understand how and why Osborn has such a hold over the Sentry and the Void, that he can just tell the Void to switch himself off and turn back into Bob. Making him do that took an entire miniseries before! Osborn did it in one panel!
Thumbs Sideways

Irredeemable #12
The revelation of Bette Noir's final dark secret is a bit of an anticlimax. But the conclusion of Tony's visit to his first foster family is devastating, and the final page of the comic is dark and terrifying. Good stuff!
Thumbs Up

Joe the Barbarian #3
Just as the magical world is expanding, becoming more real, and the prophecy of "The Dying Boy" is coming into focus, we suddenly return to harsh reality and things look very bad for Joe. But the final page is the real shocker: there is another world, and it has come into contact with ours. Things are being taken to a new level now.
Thumbs Up

Siege #3
I rarely like narration, and the way it's done in this issue is particularly egregious. There's far too much of it; it's mostly just repeating what we're seeing in the art (which is excellent, by the way); and it's written as an irritating, melodramatic, and ridiculous conversation between the President and an advisor.

It is good to see the world finally turning against Osborn, and his empire crumbling out from under him. It's pretty funny when he's unmasked and both Wolverine and the Human Torch say, "Toldja." And there's some exciting action in here. But mostly this is a pretty poor issue. I continue to be annoyed by Bendis' twisted take on the character of the Sentry. I'm still waiting for that part of the story to start making sense.
Thumbs Sideways

Siege: Embedded #3
I'm not sure what to say about this issue. Despite all the action, it's actually kind of boring. Not much really happens except that everybody ends up at Asgard and we see it fall like we just saw it fall in Siege #3, except from a slightly different perspective. Also, we learn that Keller, while slimy and a bit cowardly, is at least determined that the show go on.
Thumbs Sideways
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Comic books (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Siege (Not), The Take (Not)
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 04:06 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 2/24. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Batman and Robin #9
I seriously love this story arc. We open up this issue with the other shoe dropping on Batwoman's death. Turns out she killed herself on purpose, so Batman could drag her out and resurrect her in the Lazarus Pit! Crazy. She is seriously bad-ass. I love the banter between Batman, the Knight, and Squire. "At least we all grew up normal," Dick says. Riiiight. I love crazy clone Batman's insane dialog and twisted, nightmarish versions of Bruce Wayne's memories. I also love how Alfred and a crippled Damian manage to hold their own against him for a bit, using an elevator, a computer mouse, some gasoline, and electricity. "Stepping in gasoline was your biggest mistake." Ha! Batman jumping on a suborbital experimental craft so he can get back to Gotham in time, then swinging in to save Damian in the nick of time in an image that mirrors the cover of Detective Comics #27 = fabulous. Then he and Batwoman get to share a double-punch takeout of evil Batman. Sadly, Dick doesn't know Batwoman likes the ladies and makes a pass at her. Poor Dick. It's hilarious when Squire and Knight show up and get to do their own double-punch takeout of another criminal kingpin, who hopes they won't tell his "missus aboot the lasses." Heh. Then we finish up with the lead-in to the next storyline: "Bruce is still alive and we have to find him!" Awesome. Long live Grant Morrison!
Thumbs Up

Blackest Night #7
This opens with a bit of an interesting moment: Nekron asking one of the Guardians why he vowed to guard the universe, and him answering, "I do not remember." That's probably a large part of the Guardians' problem right there. Sadly, this scene is followed by a lot of pointless back-and-forth and bickering. The Black Hand makes a speech, Luthor goes berserk briefly, and there's lots of poor dialog. Then there's an impressive moment when all the armies of all the Corps suddenly show up in orbit over Earth in a big two-page spread. I'm curious about whoever is trapped inside the Black Lantern power battery - could it be the Anti-Monitor maybe? But the big reveal of this issue is that the Guardians secretly buried on Earth The Entity - the first life in the universe, and the embodiment of the White Light, just as Parallax is the embodiment of the Yellow Light. Nekron digs it up to kill it, but then Sinestro jumps in and becomes the White Lantern (or the Honky Lantern, as I like to call him), which is rather an interesting turn of events. Is he going to pull a Norman Osborn and save the universe so he can take it over? I don't know. All I know is, there's only one more issue of this thing left, thank God.
Thumbs Sideways

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1
Warren Ellis' new, crazily-titled Avatar series is here! It's set in an alternate-history version of London, 1830 (well, a secret-history version of London, 1830, if the narrative text is to be believed), where there's a conspiracy involving magistrates and Bow Street Runners; Bobbies are being horribly killed, possibly by Spring-Heeled Jack; and a guy named Captain Swing, who's mastered electricity and electrogravitics, is flying around the skies in a boat covered in lightning. Needless to say, I freaking love this comic. I even love the narration; it provides historical context, but not in a dry way - it's loaded with personality and humor. The dialog is excellent, too, my favorite line being the following: "The future is whatever in this world I have decided not to kill." Looking forward to seeing where this one goes next.
Thumbs Up

The Flash: Rebirth #6
Finally, after even longer than it took Captain America, the Flash is done getting reborn! This issue opens with a pretty exciting and emotionally effective action sequence, spanning across enormous amounts of time and space, in which Reverse Flash is finally captured and there's a parade. Then there's a whole bunch of rather confusing jump-cuts to various other settings and characters. I didn't really follow what all of that was about, except that clearly Johns is planting seeds for future story arcs. The scene between Barry and Iris is a little corny, but mostly works, and I really enjoy the final scene at Justice League HQ with Barry showing up late, as usual. On the whole, not a bad miniseries.
Thumbs Up

Gravel #17
This issue opens by reminding us that Gravel isn't exactly a nice guy, as he recruits into his Minor Seven a woman who uses "blonde magic" to kill a bunch of guys in really horrible ways, despite the fact that some of them, at least, don't really seem to deserve it. Meanwhile, some dude who doesn't like Gravel very much makes some kind of hideous magic machine out of bone and guts and kills a bunch of people in a church, apparently just to get Gravel's attention. Which is interesting. It's nice to see a larger story arc developing again!
Thumbs Sideways

Irredeemable #11
Some of Bette Noir's secrets have come out, and they're definitely interesting, but it sounds like she's still holding back some further, even more terrible secret, and I'm curious to know what it is. It looks like Qubit screwed up as far as Encanta is concerned and she got whisked away somehow. I'm not sure what that's about. The sequence in the home of Tony's first foster family is twisted in the extreme. The idea that they haven't spoken a single word aloud for years and years, just because they were afraid Tony would hear them, is mind-blowing. I continue to burn through each issue of this comic as quickly as I can read it, and I'm always disappointed when I run out of pages. Nice work, Mr. Waid!
Thumbs Up

The Marvels Project #6
Brubaker starts rewriting Toro's origin story in this issue. I'm intrigued as to how that's going to turn out; I suspect it will make a lot more sense than the original version - the Human Torch just randomly stumbling upon a kid with a weird ability at a traveling circus. And hey, look, an evil (well, more evil) Sub-Mariner! Meanwhile, the actual Sub-Mariner makes his move, and it's destructive in the extreme! The disaster brings out all the heroes, including a lot of dudes I don't recognize at all. Cool! Of course, the arrival of Captain America is the most exciting moment. It's great to see the core of the old-school Invaders standing together in the final panel, even if they're not all buddies yet.
Thumbs Up

New Avengers #62
This issue brings to an end the latest story arc and takes us up to the start of the events of Siege, also connecting back up to things we saw in what I think was the New Avengers Annual. When I got to the end and realized we'd just caught up with the present, it was hard not to see this whole story arc as just filler. I mean, all it does is fill in some blanks and reveal where certain characters were at certain times. Plus we get to see certain characters meet the returned Steve Rogers for the first time. Which is fun and all, and there's some great art and some fun action. It's also pretty funny that Luke Cage came back to the hideout just to get his kid's favorite binky, and it's great to see Cap say "Avengers assemble!" just like old times. But yeah, bit of an anticlimax and a letdown here.
Thumbs Sideways

Scalped #35
This is a one-shot focusing entirely on a poor, elderly couple trying to scrape out a living at the edge of the rez. It teeters on the edge of melodrama, especially when the jet crashes at the end, but the strong art and Aaron's excellent writing save it from falling over. Instead, it turns out to be another powerful and emotionally effective issue of one of the best comic series on the stands.
Thumbs Up

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #3
Speaking of comics that are just filler, this issue feels like a bunch of people repeating the same information over and over, adding a few small details on each repeat, but ultimately not really getting anywhere. It's just repetitive and dull. The Major is still way over-sexualized, constantly standing around pouting with a hand on her hips, and there's another of those weird panels where somebody's expression is way more dramatic than it has any right to be given the circumstances (this time it's the Major instead of Sisko). I did enjoy that classic moment when Odo walked into the bar and yelled, "Quaaaark!" and I'm still curious as to what the solution to the mystery is, but mostly I'm just getting tired of this series.
Thumbs Sideways

Thor #607
I love Thor as a character, but I didn't like the writing on this book when JMS was on it, so I've been avoiding it. But I noticed that this issue was starting a new story arc, tied into Siege, and that my man Kieron Gillen was now on writing duties, so I picked it up. And what the hell do you know - it's fantastic! Heimdall trapped in his room, condemned to see invaders coming to destroy Asgard, but unable to do anything about it? Amazing. Epic. Mythical! The dialog in general is excellent, and I like the characterization of Volstagg and his cop friends. It's also pretty funny seeing them try to use YouTube. And hey, Agent_M makes a cameo at the end! Well, his Twitter feed does, sort of. I like the idea of people adding Asgard banners to their "chatter" icons, and the posters in the style of Shepard Fairey's Obama poster, with the image of Thor and "WRONG" written across the bottom, are inspired. Good stuff! Guess I'm collecting another series now. Sigh.
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Batman (Not), Blackest Night (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Flash (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Gravel (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Jason Aaron (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Scalped (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), The Take (Not), Thor (Not), Warren Ellis (Not)
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010 01:26 PM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 2/17. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Captain America #603
The image of crazy Cap smiling over his shoulder with Bucky's old uniform on a dummy in the background is a very disturbing one. Meanwhile, the real Cap's poor planning gets both him and Falcon in trouble. Pretty fun stuff. Unfortunately, the Nomad backup story is still terrible. Really poor, melodramatic, unsubtle writing.
Thumbs Sideways

Dark Avengers #14
Bendis' clumsy, confusing Sentry-as-angry-God-or-maybe-something-else-entirely storyline continues and gets, if possible, even worse. We open with Osborn and Hand having a lengthy and mostly boring and repetitive conversation about Osborn's mental health, where they do a lot of posturing and all that really changes is that Osborn agrees to see a therapist (although whether he actually will is still in question). Also, Hand shoots Moonstone with a laser gun for having too much sex. Then suddenly Bendis remembers that the Sentry was destroying the world, and we get back to that whole thing. But all Osborn has to do to stop him is to mention that various big Marvel heroes would probably kill him if he tried to destroy the world, so he agrees not to. Um, what? The Sentry/The Void/Galactus/junkie wacko/the God of Abraham just backs down after a feeble death threat? Can you say ridiculous? Can you say anticlimax? After all that back and forth about what the Sentry really is and what his true origin really is, basically the only thing that changed is that now Osborn wants Bullseye to be ready to kill Lindy. Which, admittedly, is kind of an interesting threat to have hanging over the rest of the story. But what a dumb story! What terrible dialog! What atrocious misuse of characters! What a waste of pages!
Thumbs Down

Green Lantern #51
The crazy, over-the-top, multi-colored back-and-forth that is Blackest Night continues. Johns' dialog here leaves something to be desired, as usual. It feels like he's trying to cram too much into each line, as if every sentence has to state (and restate, over and over) in relatively obvious fashion everything he wants to say about that character and his relationship with whatever character he's talking to. Larfleeze is greedy, so every line he says has to be about that! And so on.

In a rather unlikely twist, Jordan's gambit works perfectly and Parallax does indeed de-Black Lantern the Spectre. But the non-zombie Spectre isn't terribly helpful to the good guys, and it sounds like the now-freed Parallax has been taken over by some other power and will cause more trouble later. So maybe not such a great plan after all. There's an interesting and slightly silly moment where Atrocitus nearly succeeds in recruiting the Spectre to his Corps (is everybody going to be turned every different color possible before this thing is over?). Then the Spectre reveals that there is indeed some embodiment of the force of Rage somewhere in the universe, but that he's not it. Hmm. Food for thought! The final page is pretty impressive and ominous, but Blackest Night as a whole continues to not really do it for me. Which is not to say I'm likely to be able to resist buying the books, but still.
Thumbs Sideways

Incorruptible #3
I've been waiting for Incorruptible to step things up and really grab me the way Irredeemable did, and in this issue it happened. Awesome!

The opening image is of a mad scientist dangling a woman over a bucket full of slime and tentacles and saying, "Now, you might feel a pinch." That's hilarious right there. As the comic goes on, the bickering, dysfunctional trio of Max Damage, Jailbait, and Lieutenant Armadale really starts to gel as a group of characters. Jailbait in particular is really starting to come into her own. "You let me fight the Hentai Brothers in a cage match because you said it was hot! And I won! And it was hot!" Ha! There are plenty of intriguing references like that to the mysterious backgrounds of these characters - like Dr. Origin's line about Max being his "only success." The next page is priceless: Max and Jailbait walking away from a huge explosion as Jailbait asks, "Where's Origin?" and Max answers, "You ask an awful lot of questions." I also love Jailbait trying to grab the TV remote control from Max; the sad peak into Armadale's past; and the deeply disturbing look at the event that made Max change sides. He was actually tired of life and of other people enjoying it, and was about to kill a bunch of people when the Plutonian showed up and did it for him! Wow. Excellent stuff.
Thumbs Up

Joe the Barbarian #2
This is a wildly imaginative story, weaving drunkenly along the edge between reality and fantasy. We continue to stumble back and forth between Joe's "real" world and a dangerous, explosive, frenetic fantasy world populated by fantastic, large-as-life, animated versions of his toys and his pet mouse. There's a war going on there between good and evil - between Lord Arc and the forces of light and King Death and the forces of darkness. It might be that Joe is the prophesied savior, and that the mouse-warrior Jack is protecting him from the Nazgul-like servants of an ultimate evil. Or it might be that Joe just really needs to get to the kitchen and have some soda. It's pretty amazing stuff, and Sean Murphy's insanely creative art is just as important to the story as Grant Morrison's wonderful, carefully portioned, bombastic-in-just-the-right-way dialog, which is constantly referencing the weird jargon and history of this fantasy world in a clever and subtle way that draws us in, and is more intriguing and entertaining than confusing or off-putting. I'm hooked!
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Blackest Night (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Siege (Not), The Take (Not)
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Monday, February 15, 2010 11:36 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.



Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Board games (Not), Cartoons (Not), Cats (Not), Celebrities (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Dinosaurs (Not), Fringe (Not), Harry Potter (Not), Hayao Miyazaki (Not), Holiday (Not), Indiana Jones (Not), Links (Not), Mike Mignola (Not), Monsters (Not), Monty Python (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Pixar (Not), Politics (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Siege (Not), Star Trek (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Video (Not), Web comics (Not)
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Thursday, February 11, 2010 08:39 AM
(Last updated on Thursday, February 11, 2010 10:20 AM)
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 2/3. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #32
This issue had multiple covers, but I got the best one: it retitles the book Buffy Comics and the illustration is a parody of the famous cover of Action Comics #1, with Buffy standing in for Superman. Also, I'm pretty sure that's Joss Whedon playing the screaming man in the bottom left corner. They didn't do this just for the fun of it, either; the issue is about Buffy gaining super powers, way above anything she ever had before, and is loaded with references to other super-powered characters from throughout the history of popular culture, especially Superman. There's something particularly funny about the references to Kitty Pryde, and Buffy's dislike of the character, given that Whedon wrote an arc of Astonishing X-Men in which Kitty was the central character. A lot of the story is quite funny, really, especially how Xander just totally geeks out over Buffy's powers. I also rather like the Superman II reference, when Buffy, standing in the air with her arms folded, says, "General... would you care to step outside?"

I was a little worried about this issue, because it was written by Brad Meltzer, whose work I've really disliked in the past, and indeed some of the dialog is a bit awkward and odd, but overall I was pleasantly surprised. It's a pretty good issue - fast-paced, exciting, funny - and it moves the overarching plot forward in fascinating ways. The revelation about the origin of Buffy's new powers is not particularly shocking, but it's still an interesting development. Hopefully Meltzer can keep up the good work.

In the back of the book is a preview of Zack Whedon's upcoming Terminator series. I was going to buy the first issue of this sight unseen because I love Terminator and I love anybody named Whedon, but this preview seals the deal. Fun dialog, interesting characters, and a sense of impending doom. Good stuff!
Thumbs Up

Criminal: The Sinners #4
Another great issue. One of the killer kids realizes it's not all black and white, and that some of the bad guys aren't so bad that they deserve to get executed. He makes a fateful decision, and Lawless solves the murder mystery. That doesn't get Lawless out of any trouble, though; in fact, he's making brand new enemies, and now his fellow employees know about him and the boss's wife. Yay for dark and evil noir!

In the back of the book is a really amazing essay by Joe Hill called "Real, True Damage." On the surface it's an appreciation of a Charles Bronson movie called Mr. Majestyk, but underneath that it's really a powerful, insightful memoir about life and human nature. I think I might have to start reading more stuff by Joe Hill.
Thumbs Up

Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire #6
Finally, the epic conclusion to Jason Aaron's run on Ghost Rider! Sadly, the pacing of the opening is a bit off; almost before we realize Johnny and Danny's first fight with Zadkiel is over, they're going back to face him again, with no real indication of where everybody went in the meantime. Still, the rest of the book pretty easily makes up for this, as the next sequence features every Ghost Rider ever rising up to pull Zadkiel down, and then, when they're done with that, utterly destroying the invading armies of hell. It's pretty awesome, especially the huge two-page spread of the entire Ghost Rider army. Then there's tiny Knuckles O'Shaugnessy spitting out ridiculous slang, and a Wild West Ghost Rider saying, "Bring it on, you sumbitches!" and a Ghost Rider on a giant shark tearing into people, and... yeah, it's fantastic. Later there's a handful of fun epilogue panels, including one where the giant zealot guy is stuck paralyzed in a hospital room with eyeball guy, who is just talking and talking in the most annoying way and it's hilarious. The very end is also excellent, with our three heroes riding off into the sunset, in search of new adventures. Danny: "Where the hell are we going?" Johnny: "I don't know. But I'll race ya." Yep, that pretty much sums it up! Aaron's Ghost Rider arc had its bumpy moments, but overall it was a lot of fun, and this conclusion was pretty much everything I could have hoped for.

There's not much to say about the reprint, in the back of the book, of the final part of the origin story of the Son of Satan, except that it's pretty ridiculous.
Thumbs Up

Marvel Heart-Breakers #1
I'm not really sure why I felt I had to pick up this one-shot anthology. I guess it was the inclusion of a character from Nextwave (Tabitha Smith) that pulled me in. I believe the book is meant to be Marvel's celebration of Valentine's Day, so the focus is, stereotypically, on the women of the Marvel universe and their love lives. There's a goofy Spider-Man story that looks like it's going to be about Gwen Stacy vs. MJ, but then ends up mostly being about Spider-Man vs. an ill-conceived science project. It's vaguely amusing, but nothing to write home about. The next story, "Superboys!", is funnier, if also a bit uneven. It features Tabitha Smith and Elsa Bloodstone waiting around to beat up Bloodstone's ex. While they're sitting there, they share stories about relationships gone awry. I particularly like Elsa's story about how her Dad chucked her into the water with sharks to celebrate her womanhood. Tabitha points out that this is a continuity problem, but Elsa retorts, "Who are you, Uatu the Watcher?" Heh. The gossip about the other men of the Marvel U is also pretty amusing. The next story centers on the Beast and Dazzler, and it's kind of sweet, but also kind of corny, and also... Dazzler. Dazzler is lame. The last story, about Snowbird, is dull and melodramatic. Then there's a cute page of art with a bunch of the Marvel women hanging out with white outfits on that show off their boobs. Classy.

I really have to stop getting these anthology books. They're always mediocre.
Thumbs Sideways

Siege #2
I'm really enjoying Olivier Coipel's epic art on this title, which is set off by Mark Morales' fine inks and Laura Martin's wonderful colors. In the opening of this issue, Ares learns the truth: that Osborn has lied to him to trick him into fighting against his brother Gods. This is clearly an important plot point, but unfortunately it's a pretty weak hinge for the story to swing on. I mean, the lie was a transparent one that Ares was bound to see through eventually. Why didn't Osborn come up with something a little more believable? Why didn't Ares bother doing some research first? It's kind of lame. It is totally fun, however, when Maria Hill drives in on the back of a beat-up truck and shoots Osborn with a missile launcher, and then follows that up by covering the rest of the Avengers with machine gun fire while her new buddy tries to drag the injured Thor to safety. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers pulls pretty much every other hero in the Marvel U together to help him stop Osborn, which is awesome. Then it's time for a huge, brutal fight between the Sentry and Ares that ends with... well, with the Sentry ripping Ares in half with his bare hands. Sigh. Have I mentioned lately that I hate what Bendis is doing with the Sentry? However, I was ready to forgive pretty much all of this comic's flaws when I got to the last page, a page so great it made me pump my fist in celebration. It's just four panels of Osborn staring up while we watch the reflection of Cap's shield getting closer and closer in his armor's faceplate. Hilarious and fantastic and a thrilling preview of the epic battle to come.
Thumbs Up

Siege: Embedded #2
I'm enjoying this series more than I thought I would. The characters are strong and interesting - Volstagg is particularly fun - and it's good to see somebody taking jabs at Fox News and our media-obsessed culture. There's even some exciting action. In the back is a preview for a Jeph Loeb Ultimate title which is predictably bad.
Thumbs Sideways
Tagged (?): Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Buffy (Not), Comic books (Not), Criminal (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Ghost Rider (Not), Jason Aaron (Not), Joss Whedon (Not), Siege (Not), Superman (Not), Terminator (Not), The Take (Not)
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:28 AM
The Take
 by Fëanor

Fëanor's (semi-)weekly comic book review post.

This post covers new releases from the week of 1/27. Beware spoilers!

New releases
Batman and Robin #7
Once again Grant Morrison tosses us into the middle of a story that's already in progress, and doesn't slow down for one moment to let us catch up. We're left breathless and floundering, expected to figure out what's going on all by ourselves. I love it!! The action is insanely fast-paced, with Batman defusing bombs, saving kids, and leaping onto the back of motorcycles in mid-air, all in a totally matter-of-fact manner, like he does it every day - because he does do it every day. We get a quick, fun glimpse of the British supervillain prison, meet warring gangs of super criminals, stumble into a haunted mine, and Batman decodes a domino game into a tunnel map. There's a quick Batwoman crossover, an unfortunate panel where Batwoman and Batman get their dialog swapped by mistake (oops), and then we discover the terrible lengths Dick has gone to to get Bruce back. He thinks he's doing the right thing, and indeed it makes perfect sense character-wise that he would do this, but of course we know Bruce would never have wanted it, and nothing good can come of it. Which just makes it all the more awesome as a plot development. The final page promises us Batman vs. Batman in the next installment. I can't wait!
Thumbs Up

Captain America: Reborn #6
Finally, this miniseries comes to an end, well after comics have begun coming out set after its events. But that's okay, it was worth the wait. This is a fantastically fun and exciting final issue, from Dr. Pym's hilarious first line ("And that's how a real scientist punches... you hacks."), to Steve's terrifying and breathtaking final vision of a future overrun with War of the Worlds-style alien invaders. Steve beating the crap out of the Red Skull in his mind is also so bad-ass I was practically pumping my fist in the air while I read it. "There's a reason you never win... it's 'cause I never let you!" But seriously, how many things can Sharon screw up? She was brainwashed into shooting Steve in the first place; it's her fault he got lost in time; and in this issue she tries to take out the Skull and mistakenly turns him into a far more powerful and destructive giant version of himself. Somebody lock her up!

It's a great moment when Steve calls Bucky Captain America, and they head out to fight the Skull together. Bucky: "Does shooting still count as fighting?" Steve: "It does today." Bucky: "Then we're good to go."

Oh, and looks like Sin will be the new Red Skull. That's a nice touch. But yeah, that apocalyptic vision of Steve's is very cool. I'm looking forward to seeing where Brubaker goes next with this.
Thumbs Up

Green Lantern #50
Oh, Green Lantern. I wish I could quit you. But as usual, I was suckered in by the blurbs on the cover. "50th ISSUE!" "PARALLAX REBIRTH." "Oh crap, I can't miss that!" But really, I could have. Sure, there are some fun scenes - zombie Aquaman tries to torture Mera with their zombie son, and she just says, "I never wanted children," and vomits blood all over them. Atrocitus responds, "Earthwoman, I have nothing to say but - welcome to the Red Lantern Corps." Uh, I think that turned him on. I also love Luthor getting all maniacal and excited about his new ring. Crazy Scarecrow getting all crazy is fun, too. But most of the dialog is, as usual with Johns, quite bad; the Jordan/Ferris relationship just isn't doing anything for me; and freeing Parallax to fight the zombie Spectre is such an obviously terrible idea it's ridiculous.
Thumbs Sideways

Irredeemable #10
The only problem with this comic is that it doesn't have enough pages. I need to know what happens next!! Charybdis is getting creepier by the minute, taking the monumentally tasteless step of hitting on his dead brother's girlfriend while they're going together to retrieve his body. And hey, where'd that dead body get to, anyhow?? I remain curious about, and intrigued by, the big demon guy, not to mention Bette Noir's little secret. And hey, we finally got a glimpse of some of Tony's childhood trauma and got an idea of what's going on in his head. Good stuff.
Thumbs Up

New Avengers #61
Bendis is so uneven! Some days I can't stand his dialog, and other days it's just hilarious. This comic must have been written on one of his hilarious days. The conversation between Spider-Woman and Spider-Man is really a lot of fun. I was also amused by the one supervillain making the classic mistake of gloating and trying to take a picture of the heroes getting defeated with his iPhone, while the other supervillain keeps saying, "C'mon man, quit it, this is what always gets us in trouble!" And indeed, it does. The thing with the bullet bouncing off both shields, a girder, the iPhone, and then hitting the dude in the neck is priceless. It also helps that artists Stuart Immonen, Daniel Acuña, and Dave McCaig filled this thing with gorgeous artwork.
Thumbs Up

Superman: Secret Origin #4
I couldn't remember if I'd dropped this book or was still reading it, but I decided to pick it up anyway. I'm glad I did, because this issue was fun. Gary Frank turns in his usual great art (Lois is hot in that skirt). There's a classic Superman vs. mutated monster fight in the streets of Metropolis; Superman has a great bonding moment with Jimmy on top of the Daily Planet building; the Jimmy Olsen/Lois Lane team comes together; and Luthor officially declares war on Superman and The Daily Planet. Awesome!
Thumbs Up
Tagged (?): Avengers (Not), Batman (Not), Brian Michael Bendis (Not), Captain America (Not), Comic books (Not), Ed Brubaker (Not), Geoff Johns (Not), Grant Morrison (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Mark Waid (Not), Siege (Not), Superman (Not), The Take (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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